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A student at the Royal Academy Schools, he exhibited at the Royal Academy nearly every year from 1814 until his death in 1844. He was a painter of historical scenes but became interested in portraiture later in his life. His sitters were prominent figures in public life, and he achieved first place on Thakeray's list of best Victorian painters, published in Fraser's Magazine in 1838.
Briggs was elected to the Royal Academy in 1832.